One of the truisms of the 21st century workplace is that Millennials want more than a job and a paycheque when they head to work everyday. Study after study confirms that younger workers not only want to make a difference with their work whenever possible, but also prefer to lend their talents to organizations that (generally) share their values, are dedicated to making a positive difference in the world around them and actively find ways to contribute to their local communities. Competitive compensation is a Millennial must-have, of course, but it’s far from the only box that needs ticking when members of this cohort choose a prospective employer. In this sense, organizations that take a strategic approach to corporate social responsibility—by embarking on a path of committed corporate philanthropy that aligns with their organizational values and business model—stand a far better chance of attracting, retaining and engaging top talent in the knowledge economy.
It’s a point confirmed by a new survey from Imagine Canada, a leading advocacy organization for Canada’s non-profit sector. The report found that 50 per cent of employees surveyed will research a prospective employer’s charitable work before signing on with a company. And it turns out Millennials are willing to put their money where their mouth is when it comes to staying true to their philanthropic values. Fully 28 per cent of employees surveyed said they would be willing to earn less to work for a company that was committed to giving back to the community.
Philanthropy drives retention
Workers who said their companies performed strongly on the giving front were more likely to stay on with that employer for at least two years (86 per cent), while 59 per cent said they would likely recommend their organization to friends as a great place to work. Perhaps most importantly, employees who gave the thumbs up to their companies’ community and charitable work said they shared a ‘common social purpose’ with their employers. That’s a particularly significant finding when we consider that Millennials, in particular, are more likely to remain engaged and employed with organizations to which they feel closely philosophically aligned.
Statistics such as these underscore the tight correlation between philanthropy and employee performance. At a time when so many organizations are struggling to attract and retain—let alone motivate—talent, a coordinated and sustained approach to corporate philanthropy that moves past basic cheque writing can deliver a competitive advantage for your organization that’s not only cost effective (employee turnover and attraction costs are some companies’ greatest balance sheet expenses), but also delivers positive long-term financial results.
As Imagine Canada CEO Bruce MacDonald noted in the report: “Socially committed corporations and their employees are a bulwark against the social deficit. Visionary corporate leaders are recognizing community investment as the means to attracting the workforce of tomorrow.”
Investing to enable employee giving
They’re the ones that are also committing ample resources to helping achieve those strategic philanthropic goals, usually through investments in systems and processes. Case in point: 79 per cent of employees that work for companies with payroll deduction programs—which enable direct donations to charity at each pay period—leverage those tools to give back. At organizations that lack workplace donation programs, only 47 per cent of employees say they give to charities. Interestingly, 76 per cent of employees support a cause they discovered or learned more about with the help of their employer.
One of the greatest challenges companies face when establishing or maintaining a corporate giving program—especially when it enables employees to make direct payroll donations—is time. They simply lack the resources to set up the necessary infrastructure to achieve their philanthropic goals. That’s where organizations such as Canada Gives can help.
Providing much-needed assistance to organizations
We work with many corporations to set up foundations to manage their giving, assist in their strategic giving goals and relationships with key charities, as well as making recommendations on third-party service providers that can help build out the systems that enable employees to give back and feel good about doing it, while building a stronger affinity and appreciation for their employer along the way. In other words, we handle the back-office —from tax receipting to reporting, and all tasks in between—so you can focus on what matters most: innovating, serving your clients, growing your business and engaging employees in dynamic new ways.
There’s little doubt that workplace dynamics, along with the general relationship between employers and employees, have shifted dramatically in recent years. That your employees not only want to do a great job, but leave a lasting impact with their work, is a wonderful thing. The key to leveraging that excitement is providing them with the tools to satiate their philanthropic hunger, while finding ways to boost your bottom line at the same time.
Denise Castonguay, Executive Director and CEO